Friday, April 22, 2016

It's a GIRL! Elsa Anne Rhodes

Our 5th baby arrived at 8:00 AM, on March 15.  (Yes, I realize that was over a month ago.  Do you realize how hard it is to find time to blog when you nurse 8 hours a day and have four other kids?? :) )

This baby took her time in getting here.  My charts said I was due March 7.  I thought it should have been March 14.  (I was right, obviously.)  But starting about the first of March, the baby started shoving and making things very uncomfortable.  But at each appointment, after examination, the doctor said I wasn't even close.  She even did an x-ray to make sure the baby was head-down. 
Wednesday, March 9, I was sure was going to be "the day."  I woke up about 3, having light contractions.  They were uncomfortable, but not intense, but very regular, about 10 minutes apart.  I laid in bed, timing them for two hours, and then when Paul's alarm went off at 5 (for him to go to work), I got up and ate breakfast with him, wanting some nourishment before going in to the hospital.  Paul called in to his supervisor and told him he wouldn't be coming in.
And then the contractions stopped.  Completely.  Not a single one the rest of the day, although the baby was still giving me the "pushing down" feeling.  But even that lessened as the day went on, and at my regular appoinment that afternoon, the doctor examined me and said I was barely even dialated and the head wasn't any further down.
So move forward to the weekend.  I hadn't had any more contractions, but the baby continued to make me very uncomfortable.  But I was okay with no contractions!  My doctor had left Thursday night to go on vacation, and she wouldn't be back until Monday afternoon.  Although I was sure I could give birth with a stranger delivering, I would be very uncomfortable.  My doctor is the only female that delivers babies in our town, and any of the other doctors I don't know AT ALL.
Monday came and still nothing, but I laid down that afternoon, and then had a few contractions.  They again were about 10 minutes apart for about two hours.  Paul again called into work (he was going to nights this time).  My sister came and got the other kids to stay the night with her.  The contractions continued, steady but not intense, but then stopped at 7 PM.  Then about 9 they started up again, this time irregular but stronger, 10 minutes, then 6, then 20, then 3, then 10.....  I'd never had this happen before - all 4 other babies, once contractions started, they were steady and grew stronger and we had a baby within a few hours.  I called the hospital and asked their opinion.  They could look at my charts and know my history.  But the nurse said it was up to me.  If I was worried about delivering at home, to come on in, but otherwise, I'd be more comfortable having my early labor at home.  (I later found out that I called just as they were delivering another baby.)
Then at midnight, my contractions stopped.  Again.  At 1, I gave up and went to bed, figuring I needed whatever sleep I could get.  I finally fell asleep about 2.  Paul came to bed at 3 (he was well-rested from sleeping all day to go to work nights), and then I woke up at 4 with a "real" contraction.  When the second one was 6 minutes later, I got out of bed.  Another came 5 minutes later, and so I woke up Paul.  "I think this is the real thing."
Everything was ready to go to the hospital, and the kids were already gone, so we just left.  Once we got to the hospital, the contractions kept growing in intensity, but still weren't really regular.  They'd come steady, then would be a longer break, then two or three close together.  Any way, I could tell this was "the real deal" and knew we'd be having a baby that morning.  My guess was by 6 AM.
Six o'clock came and went.  The nurses called the doctor before shift change at 7, and she came immeditately and did paperwork while waiting.  Seven o'clock passed.  Then finally, IT WAS TIME.
Gideon had been such an easy delivery, two half-hearted pushes, that I assumed this labor would be easy.  Everyone got in position and I pushed, and.... Nothing.  The nurses encouraged me, "Push as hard as you can," so I gathered my strength for the next contraction and gave it my all and..... Nothing.  What the deuce?  How much of a wimp am I?  Several pushes later, I finally felt the head starting to crown, and then another push and the head was out.  I heard both nurses and the doctor exclaim, "Sunny side up!"  My contraction and strength ran out, but then the next push, she was out. 
Paul kissed me and said, "You've got another girl!"
What??  I was so sure this was going to be a boy.  Not that I was disappointed, but so much for mother's intuition!
So.  A "sunny side up" baby is born differently than a "normal" delivery.  I researched this, because I've never watched my babies come out. I didn't know what was normal or not, and why the doctor would be surprised.  Normally, babies are born face down, and then turn to the side as their shoulders come out.  A "sunny side up" baby is born face-up.  Instead of the crown of the head (the back top part) being the first part out, the whole top of the head presents, so it's a bigger part you're trying to push out.  (Which accounts for my inadequate pushing.)  Also, since the round crown isn't pressing against your round cervix, it applies pressure unevenly, which can cause irregular contractions.  Often there are other complications, which thankfully we didn't have to deal with, but my lower back was a wreck afterwards, and I've had bowel issues ever since.  I think the back of her head pressing into my spine all the way out caused some of the issues.
But she's here!  And she's perfect.  And that's all that matters.

Brand new!

I love this man!

Family of SEVEN!
Bright eyes.

Back asleep.

She was our heaviest baby, weithing in at 8 lb 5 oz, but our shortest at only 18 inches.  In features, we noticed immediately that she has the same hair that Nathan did in infancy.  She also has a very strong neck like he did, lifting her head off my chest and looking around.  Her cheeks and chin look just like Zadie's did in her baby pictures.  And her nose looks like Gideon's.  It's going to be a while before we can tell whose eyes she's got - the Rhodes eyes with the killer lashes, or the Eichenberger puppy eyes.
The first few weeks were rough on sleeping - or NOT sleeping, to be more accurate.  Miss Elsa wanted to be held all the time.  The only time she would cry is if you put her down in her crib.  So I spent a lot of time on the couch.  A LOT.  Which made my back hurt even more.  Finally, after about 5 days, I couldn't do it anymore, and she moved to our bed.  Bad sleep with a baby next to you is better than zero sleep on the couch.
The sleep issue has worked out since we re-tried swaddling.  We did it the first week, but she'd kick out of the blanket, even the swaddler wrap with velcro, so we stopped doing it.  Last week, I decided to try swaddling using some larger cotton muslin blankets a friend sent over.  BINGO!  Elsa thinks she's still being held when she's wrapped up, and I can usually guarantee a minimum of 3 hours, but last night got six amazing hours alone. (But of course we wasted the first two watching Downton Abbey on DVD......)
Really, she's a pretty happy baby, only crying when she wants to be held.  She's only had one night of inconsolable mystery crying.  (All 3 boys regularly had several-hours-long screaming bouts, most nights.  I don't remember it as much with Zadie.  I know she slept through the night early on.)
Elsa had the hardest time of any of our kids at gaining back the weight she lost after birth.  It took a full four weeks.  Part of the problem was she was tongue-tied and couldn't get a good latch.  (Which she could have done had she not been too sleepy/lazy to open her mouth wide.)  The doctor clipped her frenulum at her one-week checkup, and that immediately fixed the latch issue.  The other part was I am  having milk production issues, despite previously nursing four babies with zero problems.  One side is barely producing, so since I was only nursing on one side at a time, she was essentially only getting fed half of what I thought she was.  But once I discovered this, I started nursing both sides every time and she has steadily gained about an ounce a day.  (Everyone asked how I figured out the production issue.  It was after she went four hours without nursing for the first time since birth.  One side got very full, and the other didn't.  At all.  Too much information??)
As to the name....  She is NOT named after Disney's Frozen character.  However.... Zadie did suggest the name.  Because she loves Frozen.  At first, I said ABSOLUTELY NOT.  But after spending hours and hours on name web sites, and nothing really grabbing me, I came back to Elsa.  (I had liked the name Ilsa, but Paul wasn't on board.)  I looked up it's meaning - "dedicated to God."  Fitting.  I looked up it's popularity (my main reason for rejecting it - I figured it would be wildly popular because of the movie) - it was ranked in the 200s.  Looking better.  "Elsa" sounded good with the middle name we'd picked out long ago - "Anne," a middle name also shared by Paul's mom and sister.  I ran it by Paul, and it was settled.  Elsa Anne.  (And because the boys were sure that Zadie had gotten to pick the girl's name, they decided that if it was a boy, his name would be Luke Skywalker.)
So that's the birth story of our 5th precious baby.  We're settling into the new normal, and trying to get back to doing the necessary things like housecleaning and outdoor work.  And physical activity in general.  We'll get it figured out soon.


Education about babies and belly buttons.